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The Cross, the Crescent, and the Dragon

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The official recordkeeper of Pope Gregory IX, Julian of Minot, kept an extremely detailed record of the Pope’s life, but his most detailed one is the Synod of Trinity.  The manuscript has been preserved for hundreds of years. 

 

Trinity, the Sanctum Imperium Catholicum 

April 24, Year of Our Lord 1551 

Our Lady’s Cathedral 

 

The stiff humid air hung over the huge gathering of clergy like a blanket.  Cardinals and bishops around the world originating from the Iberic Empire to Tagmatium and beyond, numbering some thousand, were crammed into the expansive Our Lady’s Cathedral.  The noise was incredible- thousands of people, including some support staff consisting of nuns and sisters- talking in various tones of confusion, stress, boredom, annoyance, and excitement.  A word between two people had to be shouted into the ear, the din combining the heat crushing any who would enter, audible to the guards outside and to anybody who walked within half a mile. 

All of a sudden, the church bells tolled.  First quietly, then growing louder and faster, before becoming a constant clang over the roaring voices of the assembly.  The voices died down, listening to the banging of church bells, until as quickly as they came they fell away.  The clergy were seated in ascending rows that came down from the sides, as well as up on the second level and in front of the altar.  Behind the altar were two ornate and very decorative thrones, one for each patriarch of their respective churches.  In between them both, set back, was a large statue of the Virgin Maiden, holding the baby Jesus and looking upwards to the Heavens.  The stunning beauty of the thrones and massiveness of the statue was enough to take the breath away of many that visited the cathedral. 

A stout friar walked in front of the altar, prostrated before it, then rose and bellowed in a loud and strong voice.  

“All rise.”  All present obeyed, a roar echoing out from the action, the creaking of wood accompanying it.  The friar paused for a moment before continuing.  “In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, Amen.  Esteemed Servants of God, we convene in this holy spot in the Great Synod of Trinity, as ordained by His Most Holiness Pope Gregory IX of the Salvian Church, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of Peace, Diarchic Pontiff of the Universal Church, Archbishop of Deopolis,  jointly with His Most Holiness, Patriarch Hilarius XVI, Bishop of Madrí, Vicar of the Messiah, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Diarchic Pontiff of the Universal Church, Archbishop of Intreimor, Servant of the Servants of God.”

The friar paused once more, before beginning to chant, a chorus of nuns and friars joining in. All eyes turned to two different sets of doors on either side of the altar, the chant announcing them like lordly kings, and the many icons and stained-glass windows of saints and other holy people watching with the assembly.  The door swung open, a column three across of priests and other holy men began to process out. Many had holy water, sprinkling it on the crowd.  Other carried incense, burning it in a spherical chamber closed and attached to a chain, the priests gently swinging it to let the incense burn and waft out into the air.  The already hot and stuffed air only worsened as the incense burned and hung over.  In the front of both processions came a priest carrying a banner.  On both held the Chi-Rho, while each also had another their own sign below it- on the Salvian, a dove, and on the Tacolic, a taco.  On both, above the Chi-Rho, had a picture of the Holy Family.  Followed behind the banners came the patriarchs, heads bowed and hands clasped in prayer.  The banners came in line with the altar before turning towards it, processing to the front of it, and stopping.  They hung next to each other, motionless.  Some of the processors came to stand in front of some benches in front of the altar- those with incense came to the altar, circled around it while swinging their incense, before finally kissing the altar and standing behind both patriarchs, the smoke continuing to rise into the air. 

The procession marked the beginning of the synod, a thing that touched any present in the assembly and moved any with just an inkling of faith to devout and pious acts.  The Virgin Mary sat quietly, observing the assembly with a caring maternal stare.  The patriarchs walked to the front of the altar and prostrated in front of it.  The chant finished, and their was total silence.  They lay there in prayer for minutes, before finally rising, kissing the altar, and walking behind the altar to their thrones.  The assembly sat. 

Another minute passed before Pope Gregory rose from his throne and walked towards the front of the altar.  He was dressed in his full papal garbs, his hat sitting on top of his bald head and the staff loosely gripped.  An older man in his 60s, the pope seemed troubled as he cleared his throat, took a large breath, and began to speak. 

“My dearest brothers in Christ, Shepard of your flock, you come from the many corners of the wurld.  From the Iberic Empire to Limonaia, south to Aurelia, to Marenesia, north to Europa, and even the far reaches of Thalassa, you slaves of Christ have come to this most dire and important Synod of our holy Church.  For while our Church grows in both faith and outreach, the wurld is simultaneously attacked by evil forces.  Wickedness and heresy, from the most evil Lucifer, are cultivated in people and nations around the Eurth.  I am of course talking about the ever-growing threats of the Yellow Empire [@Fulgistan] and Sultanate of @Sayf.  These nations, home to demon-worship, heresy, sodomy, hedonism, and many other wicked evils, are rapidly expanding, pushing out native Christians, slaughtering them, and spreading their wickedness across the New Wurld.  As good Christians, we cannot sit by and let Christian land be taken by the forces of Satan.” 

His speech continued for much longer- a rallying cry for all Catholics to join their Christian brethren on an attack of wicked evils.  Men shifted in their seats attentive to every word that left his lips, nodding in agreement, shaking in anger, or yelling their support.   

“A crusade, needed to beat back the forces of Hell, must be rallied!  The only thing stopping the wickedness of Lucifer from taking over the wurld is God’s only Church!  Rally your kings, lords, barons into battle, for they shall be rewarded richly in the kingdom of Heaven!  Deus Vult!” 

At this, the assembly erupted in cheers and shouts, clapping and whooping, the loud din from before returning once more as chatter quickly swept through the assembly once more.  The stout friar once more returned to bellow at them to remain silent.  Many Iberican cardinals stood and began to list their concerns.  (Here Julian paraphrases much of the Iberian Tacolic concerns and the counterarguments, summarizing them in a basic sentence.  Authors from after Julian’s death have added in the margins, and with historical context in mind, edited it to fit the many problems they faced in as small a space as possible.  This is most likely not literally what they said.) “We face much civil and political troubles in the Iberic Empire.  A greater tithe will most certainly upset the populace, and the barons and lords will most undoubtedly be divided over whether to send their men to a crusade.”  Other cardinals rose to protest and support these concerns, while still other Tacolic cardinals rose and debated with them, arguing it was for Christendom and that civil and political strife were triumphed by the orders of God and the dual papacy. 

(Here the writings are faded and illiterate.  Looking back on the history, it is known that the cardinals of the Tacolic faith, specifically the Ibericans, remianed privately split throughout the crusade, although those who sided with the Salvians and other Tacolics threw their full support behind it and led barons and lords into battle.) 

(Julian continues) 

The debate ran for many hours before both sides had been tired out.  The dissenting cardinals submitted. 

Both pontiffs rose from their seats, and with a nod of approval from the Iberian patriarch, Pope Gregory turned towards the assembly, and cried out.  “A papal bull, signed by these Vicars of the Most High, Jesus Christ, declare the crusade to retake the Christian lands and put an end to the Yellow Empire and Sayfi Sultanate, shall bless and declare these crusades a quest of God.”  A few assistants came up with a sheet of paper with writing on it, ink, quills, and both pontiffs’ seals as the two signed the document and gave it their seal.  “Seek glory in God!  Deus Vult!” The assembly erupted, louder then ever before, as the great bells rang out in a courageous call. 

The screams and cries of the cardinals rang out, heard by those even in the outer reaches of the city a mile away and farther. “Deus Vult!  Deus Vult!  Deus Vult!”  

Edited by Sancti Imperii Catholico
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Posted (edited)

POPE GREGORY IXEpiscopus Servus Servorum DeiDECREES 

 

Vincere Malus 

 

To defeat evil, the armies of righteousness are called upon to combat the forces of Satan.  Man raises its sword, and with the grace of God beats evil back down into Gomorrah and Sodom, where it shall burn for eternity as their punishment.  For while Christ taught peace, when Christendom and its people are threatened, Christ Himself takes up the sword to strike the wicked down.  

To defeat evil, courageous and pious men are needed to fight- to take up his own cross, walk the path of the Messiah while the wicked spit upon him and seek his ruin, and finally, at the Hill of Redemption, strike down evil in a single stroke. For it is this brave path that men must walk to ensure the protection of Christendom, and therefore, his families and neighbors salvation and wellbeing. 

To defeat evil, devout and God-fearing women are needed to grow the family- to wipe the face of the man carrying her cross, to bear his children, and to raise them in such a way that the Holy Mother would- with care and tenderness, faith in her husband and God that they will protect them.  For the woman is truly the center of civilization, and without holy and gracious women to care and further the family, then there would be no more courageous men or devout women, and so humanity and the hope for salvation itself collapses. 

To defeat evil, the family of God- His most holy and universal Church- must rise up and fulfill their most righteous duties- to take up the His most holy call.   

To defeat evil, all of Christendom must put aside their petty squabbles and differences and unite under the Sign of the Cross, to defeat the most wicked forces of Satan and to ensure the salvation and safety of Christians across the wurld. 

Satan rears his ugly head with many faces, those being the nations of the wurld that exemplify his wickedness, the evils of heresy and hedonism, the denial of Christ and his most holy kingdom, in favor of the promise of Satan.  While most people are simply misguided, led astray by the temptations of evil, some continue to ignore the Logos and pursue evil- these are the people that must be stopped at all cost.  Especially if these people not only threaten the salvation of other non-believers and their future family, but the salvation of Christian themselves. 

The Yellow Empire displays these evils, Satan having corrupted this nation long ago.  A most holy crusade shall be waged against them for their heinous crimes against God and Christendom as a whole: 

For the repeated persecution, killing, and raping of Christians living under the Yellow Empire, 

For the conquest of rightful Christian lands,  

For the continued repression of the Yellow Empire’s Christian tributary, Amhara, 

For the forced conversion of Christians to heretical and false beliefs, 

For the raiding of traders and merchants that hail from Christian lands, 

For the destruction of holy relics, icons, and other sacred imagery, 

For the continued threatening of Christian lands and territory, 

For the continued mistreatment of Christian missionaries, and finally, 

For the cultivation and encouragement of evil, including demon-worship, sodomy, and heresy in the lands of the Yellow Empire, as well as encouraging these heinous acts amongst the Christian populace within the lands. 

For these reasons, His Most Holiness Pope Gregory IX of the Salvian Church, Vicar of Christ, Successor of the Prince of Peace, Diarchic Pontiff of the Universal Church, Archbishop of Deopolis, declares a most holy crusade to reclaim these lands and defeat the most unholy and evil Yellow Empire. 

 

Issued on the 4 of August, Year of Our Lord 1551, the 13th year of His Holiness’ reign as Vicar of the Most High. 

 

Salvia Catholicae Ecclesiae Episcopus, 

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Edited by Sancti Imperii Catholico
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New Salvis, the Sanctum Imperium Catholicum Overseas Colonies 

August 22nd, Year of Our Lord 1554 

Provincial Palace  

Flavio Burgellio sat at the head of the War Council, leaning back in his chair with his head rested on his knuckles, reminiscing on the steps that were taken to get .  A nobleman’s son, he was brought up in the royal courts of Deopolis as his family vied and played the political game, hoping to replace the current Colombo dynasty.  The Burgellions had come close to placing Flavio on the throne, having the support of most of the nobles, but needed the last necessary piece to claim the Salvian throne- the support of the Church. Flavio was thus put in charge of the crusade by the Salvian king and Pope Gregory IX. 

The eastern sun illuminated the palace board room, reserved usually for the business of the governor.  Today however, it was reserved for the final preparations of the First Crusade. 

It had been just over threeyears since the crusade was called by Pope Gregory IX and his Iverican counterpart.  Since the decree, the Church had roused support amongst the people, and while the Salvian king had sent a part of the army to accompany the crusaders, many of the fighters were a massive collection of volunteers, ranging from pious commoners, explorers wishing to see the world, prisoners hoping to earn their freedom, nobles like Flavio seeking political gain, and everything in between.  The needed funds were contributed by noble families like Flavio’s, the Church, and other Christian nations- most notable of which were the Ivericans.  These funds would pay for supplies, weapons, and the basic training that was sorely needed for the untrained masses that came.  Many sold most of their possessions and left their families to embark on the crusade.  These supplies, men, and weapons had been ferried across the Adlantic over the last three years, gathering their strength and preparing for the final crossing into enemy territory. 

A war map was hung on the opposite wall, showing the full extent of the Yellow Empire and its area of influence.  While the supplies and men began to gather on the island, the leaders of the crusade- military generals and several nobles- met in the winter of 1551 in New Salvis to begin discussing the strategy.  A week before the final landing, the strategy was being reviewed one last time. 

Flavio snapped back into reality as he sat up in his chair.  The leaders of the crusade were ready to begin at Flavio’s command.  He cleared his throat and motioned his hand towards the general on his right, who stood up and walked across the room towards the map.  As he did so, Flavio addressed the leaders, “Good morning, men.  This is our last meeting before we see each other once more in heathen lands.  I turn the attention to General Cassius.” 

The general nodded before continuing, “In a matter of a few days we will cross the strait in into enemy lands, setting up a base camp at the foot of the Eastern Alharun Steppe.  Lord Phillip, you will oversee the construction and upkeep of this base to ensure that the supply lines to Salvia and the outside world will be kept open. 

Generals Marcus, Godwin, and Lords Wade and Theobald, you will lead the men already assigned to you south and sweep through below the Steppe.  Theobald and Marcus will eventually split from this group to curve northeasternly towards the Amharan capital, Godwin and Wade will continue the southernly push.  The rest of us- Lords Randall, Otto, Leo, and Flavio, will move directly from Phillip’s base and make a push to the Amharan capital, where we will link up will link up with Theobald and Marcus.  If necessary, help will be delivered to Godwin and Wade in the south.  

Most of the territory we are liberating are tributary states, so resistance should be small, especially in the south.  Only strongholds that are loyal to the Yellow Empire should provide resistance. 

If by now the Yellow Empire has not surrendered yet, we will regroup once more on the border of Amhara and Yellow Empire proper, before making our final campaign in towards their capital, Anhuajing.”  Cassius finished with a nod towards Flavio, and he nodded back. 

“Thank you, Cassius.”  Cassius moved to his seat and sat down.   
“The fine details of this campaign are entrusted to you, men.  Each and every one of you are capable leaders, and I trust all of you to step up to God’s call and lead these men on a most holy crusade against evil.  Prepare not only your plans but your soul as well.  Take up your own cross” 

The lords and generals rose from their seats.  A priest carried a large crucifix and stood to the side of the doorway.  “You are all dismissed.  Deus Vult!”   

The gathering repeated the phrase after Flavio before heading towards the doorway, kissing the feet of the Savior before exiting.   

Every one of them knew that the other was not here for religious reasons or out of piety.  They all were here for personal gain and they were all beginning to scheme.  Flavio knew he needed to be ahead of them if he wished to rise to the throne. 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

OOC notes because I felt like they didn't fit in this post but I feel should be mentioned:

1) Christians from other nations are (obviously) present, but the majority are Catholics/Tacolics 

2) Each lord/general is in charge of their own small army- a mix of their personal armies, the standing Salvian army, and volunteers thrown into battalions and assigned to a lord/general 

3) Most funding comes from nobles and lords attempting to gain something from the venture- many of which were promised something by the Burgellio’s if they contributed.  The rest is provided by the Salvian Church 

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Eastern Alharun Steppe, the Yellow Empire 

September 12th,Year of Our Lord 1554 

Fort Alcober 

 

Flavio walked outside the palisade walls, contemplating.  The crusading forces had arrived a couple days ago to their designated point at the foor of the Eastern Alharun Steppe.  Even though he had walked a decent distance away, he could see men working on the outside of the fort, the ground without any bumps over a couple feet in height.  While he could still see the multitude of soldiers bustling around the fort, he was isolated with his thoughts, alone. 

The land the fort was on, at least according to legend, was holy ground.  The first missionary to the area, John Alcobar, had come to the land some 125 years before.  After preaching his message in a nearby town he was carried out and stoned.  Flavio paused for a second, contemplating.  He was always reserved, often holding his judgement back. He was mistaken as disabled or mute many times throughout his life.  But this was the time to burst out.  Chosen by God to lead a holy mission, he would liberate these Christians or like Alcobar, spill his blood trying. 

Gusts of wind blew strongly over the steppe as he walked back to the fort, the sound of the flapping of the flags being carried by the wind.  The grass seemed to bow down in his direction.  Truly, he was chosen by God. 

 

*              *              *

A letter from Lord Bergio Theobald to his wife in Salvia, written on the 31st of October, Year of Our Lord 1554 

 

My dearest wife, 

I hope all is well at home and trust that both the estate and our children are doing well.   

Since we landed in Alharu two months ago we have met no resistance in crossing the southern portion of the Yellow Empire.  While the number of cities is small, the places we have met on our way have either immediately surrendered after seeing the size of our force or have thrown open their gates in celebration that a liberator has finally marched through their lands... 

...the southern force consists of some 30,000 souls and has only grown in number as native auxiliaries have joined our forces to fight back against their oppressors... the northern force consists of some 45,000, although I am totally unaware of the level of resistance they have met on the way... 

...I have a feeling that most of the leaders here are fighting for totally secular reasons, which if revealed to the armies would cause soldiers to abandon this most holy endeavor and thus is the only reason that I will not reveal the fact.  For I truly believe that this war is just and holy, and to see the leaders of this fight leading for an unholy motive tarnishes the war in the first place... 

...I hope all continues to be well at home.  Please pray for our souls and mission. 

Written by my own hand, 

Your dearest husband, 

Bergio Theobald 

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